Forest and Stream, December 4, 1873

Game in Season for December

Tourists and sportsmen -- Field sports - Hunting : Waterfowl and shorebird

Our frequent correspondent, Isaac McClellan, who has been shooting recently in Northeastern Virginia, on the peninsula between the Chesapeake and Atlantic, made his headquarters at the little hamlet of Eastville, which he speaks well of as affording good accommodations for sportsmen. Among other experiences with the numerous varieties of wild fowl, he mentions the swan, which he claims is by long odds the noblest fowl to be found on the coast of North Carolina and the Chesapeake. "It is something like sport," he says, "to drop a bird weighing some eighteen pounds, with a six feet extent of pinions. These great fowl, especially the cygnets, are esteemed very delicious for the table, and far superior to the goose. They collect there in great numbers, and we have seen a line of them extending for more than the space of a mile, and looking like a long reef of breakers, or a ridge of snow-drift. They are hard to kill, and require to be hit with very coarse shot, mould or T shot, before they yield up life. But once drop them in the water and they are easily got, as they do not dive, but reach their food with their long necks in shallow water.

The swans, early in September, leave the shores of the Polar Sea and resort to lakes and rivers in and about Hudson's Bay, where they remain until October. They then collect in flocks of fifteen or twenty, and mounting high in air, in a wedge shape, depart with loud screams for a more genial southern climate. They fly with great rapidity, at the estimated rate of one hundred miles in the hour, which is about double that of the goose. They do not, like the geese, follow the line of sea coast, but fly far inland, usually reaching their feeding-grounds at night; and the first signal of their arrival is given the next morning by a universal clamor. They seem to be greeting each other with their musical notes after their completed journey. When settled on their feeding grounds, they do not forsake them, unless driven away by very severe weather.

In the Chesapeake the wild swan collect in large flocks of hundreds feeding over extensive flats on the duck-grass, worms, insects and shell-fish. They are found from the mouth of the Chesapeake to the capes of Virginia, but do not pass southward of Hatteras inlet. We have seen a few flocks of them in the bays of Jersey, but have never met with them in the waters of Long Island. They feed with the geese, but do not fly with them. When crippled and caught they are easily tamed, and we have had them, at the south, in our door-yards stalking majestically among the tame wild-geese and other domestic fowl." [p. 268]

Forest and Stream
New York
December 4, 1873